Hit the beach, without the traffic: Northern RI’s freshwater shores offer great alternative for summer fun

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Editor’s note: The below content is offered as part of our special Summer/Back In Business section. View the complete printable pdf here.

Far closer – and more affordable – than the ocean waters, Northern Rhode Island’s lakes and ponds have a beauty and charm you won’t find elsewhere. 

There’s Peck Pond and Bowdish Reservoir, surrounded by the pristine hiking trails in the 4,000-area George Washington Management Area, peaceful escapes where wildlife abounds, and guests can cool off in the water, or fish from a quiet embankment. 

For Glocester residents, there are the docks at Spring Grove Beach and the tranquil water of Coomer Lake. 

And once the state Department of Environmental Management completes plans for the recently-purchased Echo Lake in Burrillville, that water body is expected to join the list of local places to take a dip on a hot summer day. 

But for affordable family fun close to home, Spring Lake Beach is hard to beat.

Where else can you swim while the kids explore multiple playgrounds and water slides, play a game of ping pong and tour a mini-museum, all for the price of a $4 admission – or $7 for non-residents. Add in the unique and affordable paid features including a vintage penny arcade; canoe, kayak and paddle board rentals; concessions; and multiple bounces houses; and you have yourself quite a full family fun day. 

Or maybe, you just want to work on your tan while gazing at the 95-acre lake. 

Either way, it isn’t the ocean, but when it comes to summer fun, Spring Lake Beach packs it in.

The town-run beach officially began the 2021 season on Memorial Day weekend, and will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., weather permitting, through September 6.

Manager Judy Lopez said that everything’s up and running in 2021 – with exception of the water fountains.  

At Spring Lake, that means there’s plenty to do and see, and you won’t have to sit in traffic for hours, pay to park, or brave your way through beach crowds. 

The arcade features games from every decade since the 1920s and some still cost just a penny to play, making it the oldest penny arcade business in America. According to a webpage on the privately-run beach arcade, there are only a few businesses in the country that still operate such penny games. You’ll also find classics like Skee ball, and a lineup of vintage pinball machines. 

Pinball machines are among the many games guests can play in the arcade.

Outside, guests can sign out sports equipment, including ping pong paddles or a volleyball, free of charge, or rent a boat for a quick ride on the lake, with kids’ boats costing just $2. A volleyball court was recently added to amenities, and you can still feed the family at the beach for less than $20, with hot dogs and hamburgers sold for $2.75 and $3.25 respectively.  

A beach store offers souvenirs, and a small museum opened in 2018 documents beach history, with photos going back to the late 1800s.

The beach also features two bounce houses, including one that’s a water slide. Two dollars will get you 15 minutes of bouncing, or for $3 you can slide through the water, with day passes costing $13. And yes, adults can enjoy the water slide too.  

Champlin Hall is available for rental for those who want private events.  

For parents of young children, Spring Lake offers a chance to relax with an expansive view and security cameras, all but eliminating fears that a little one might wander off, and there’s plenty to occupy the little tykes. There’s a lifeguard on duty daily, two small playgrounds and a few plastic slides where kids can splash into the lake. Picnic tables across the beachfront provide a place to set up for lunch, and guests have access to clean restrooms and outdoor showers.  

“This is a gem when you find it,” noted Lopez, who has managed the facility since 2015. “I’ll be honest, I love this place. The families get so excited when they come here.”

Daily admission at Spring Lake is $4 for Burrillville residents and $7 for out-of-town guests. Season passes are also available for town residents for $20 per person or $30 for a family of up to five people.    

Guests to Spring Lake can sign out equipment, including balls and paddles for the beach’s ping pong tables.
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